Welcome to the middle day of the Osaka Haru basho. So far it’s been a bit of an odd little tournament, and we find ourselves half way between shonichi and the awarding of the Emperor’s Cup with no Yokozuna, one Ozeki facing almost certain demotion, and a leaderboard populated with names that will soon be out of the running.
If you are the kind to be awake in the middle of the night (at least US time) you can catch live streaming of the last hour (or so) of the today’s action on NHK World Japan, starting at around 4 AM Eastern US time, 1 AM Pacific. Before I had a young child in my life, I would typically make a point to watch at least a couple of days live, and Nakabi is a fine choice for that.
But with day 8 upon us, it’s time for Tachiai’s leaderboard
In my mind, the yusho race will not really get started until someone manages to put dirt on Takayasu. Be aware, I am a fan of his, but I think the chances of him going 15-0 are quite slim, and I am quite sure that if we get to act three, and he is 10-0, he will face some fierce opponents. The one to watch right now is Mitakeumi, he sometimes struggles into week 2, but if he can stay strong, he is my favorite to pick up a second consecutive Emperor’s cup. Before anyone starts talking about a rope run, the answer is “not yet”.
Hunt Group: Mitakeumi, Wakatakakage, Kotonowaka
Chasers: Takakeisho, Abi, Kiribayama, Endo, Wakamotoharu, Nishikigi
8 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 8
Azumaryu vs Kotokuzan – With the torikumi out of balance, we are back to having visitors from Juryo. Today its Azumaryu, who stands a fair chance of kachi-koshi with at 5-2 recored to start day 8. A winning record will at least start the notion that he could return to the top division for May, provided enough promotion slots open up in Makuuchi.
Tochinoshin vs Yutakayama – The one thing to know about this match? Yutakayama: 4 consecutive losses. I am not a huge fan of Tochinoshin’s new street-fighter sumo, but I have to admit, it has left his opponents cautions and bit more pliable then normal. Should he hit his 8 this time out, it would be a welcome change of pace for the former Ozeki.
Chiyomaru vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki reverted to his vague and less powerful form on day 7, and I have to hope he can rally for today’s fight against the bulbous Chiyomaru. Both of these guys are riding the make/kachi-koshi line, and are ripe to be fed into Darwin’s funnel, should the schedulers decide to run one. They share an 8=8 career record, perfect for day 8. Man, these scheduler guys are having far too much fun with numbers.
Kotoeko vs Nishikigi – Kotoeko should take this one, giving Nishikigi his 3rd loss. Kotoeko holds a 4-0 career advantage over Nishikigi, so I think that Kotoeko’s size, strength and speed are a potent combination against Nishikigi’s deliberate, sturdy sumo.
Ichiyamamoto vs Chiyotairyu – Oh, great sumo cat, I beseech thee. Let Chiyotairyu unleash his thunder-god sumo again today. I would dearly love to see Ichiyamamoto receive a right proper crumpling in the lap of Dr. Takasu. Amen.
Myogiryu vs Akua – I am guessing Akua is hurt again, because he’s fighting like crap. That’s why we don’t have Akua every tournament, he struggles to maintain consistency. Myogiryu holds a 2-0 career advantage over him, and I am going to guess he may rack up so many losses, that he is named captain of the Juryo barge.
Kotoshoho vs Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi fusensho over the kyujo Chiyonokuni means he got a day of rest, nearly in the middle of the tournament. I hope it energized him, as I think this match was designed to be an even battle. Both are 4-3, they have a 2-2 career record, and I think we will see some nice sumo from Terutsuyoshi today.
Chiyoshoma vs Aoiyama – Chiyoshoma is having a tough tournament. I don’t know if its injury, loss of stamina, or he just can’t manage sumo at this rank right now. He has a 5-3 career advantage over “Big Dan” Aoiyama. Aoiyama, at 3-4, is also a prime funnel candidate, should the choose to run one this March.
Shimanoumi vs Sadanoumi – This is the point where some may choose to go relieve themselves, or grab an additional beer. I have enjoyed Sadanoumi’s sumo when he has been fighting well in prior tournaments, and I just have to hope that maybe he can get something organized here starting today. Yea, I am an optimist.
Takayasu vs Wakamotoharu – I look at this match and kind of wonder why. Sure Wakamotoharu has been fighting well, and has some great sumo this March. But this is a first time match against yusho early leader Takayasu. I would bet a donut that Wakamotoharu is going to go chest to chest, Takayasu will accept, and he will just stand there and wear him to a frazzle. Well, it has been a while since we have seen Takayasu just grind someone down for 3 minutes or so until they are begging for him to finish the match.
Hokutofuji vs Tobizaru – Hokutofuji has little time for the simian antics of Tobizaru. I predict handshake tachiai, nodowa to keep him from hopping about, and a rapid removal from the field of play. He has a 4-0 career advantage over Tobizaru, and this is normally how it goes.
Takarafuji vs Okinoumi – A match of great sadness. Both wonderful rikishi, both with crummy 1-6 records. At least we know one of them will be 2-6 after today. They have 27 matches over their career, but Takarafuji’s 16-11 advantage matters little when both of them are probably injured, and fighting this poorly.
Kotonowaka vs Endo – You know, I had no idea how much I wanted to see this match until I read the torikumi for day 8. What a delight. Endo has a chance to go 4-0 against Kotonowaka, and Kotonowaka has a chance to show the world just how much his sumo has improved since the last time they fought in May of 2021.
Meisei vs Tamawashi – Right now, Meisei can’t buy a win. I don’t think he will last more than a few second against Tamawashi, who is not at his career best, but good enough to rough up a likely injured, smaller rikishi.
Takanosho vs Ichinojo – I would like to think that Takanosho can soften his fall down the banzuke by picking up more wins, but then I see he’s fighting Ichinojo today, and I have to think again. Ichinojo, while not quite in his best form, is good enough that he’s causing all kinds of damage in the joi-jin. He beat both kadoban Ozeki, and even trashed Endo pretty effectively.
Wakatakakage vs Ura – Speaking of Ura…. At 1-6 he’s going to take a trip south on the banzuke way come May. But I think he can still cook up a couple of nice surprise wins. But he had better start soon, his only victory was against the covid depleted husk of Shodai. Will Wakatakakage try another flying genital attack? No, dear readers, those spectacular moment come once every 15 years or so.
Daieisho vs Abi – Still waiting to see if Daieisho shows up with massive taping over his crotch from that throw by Wakatakakage on day 7. Even if his man-bits survived intact, his pride may have taken significant damage. He will now live with the fact that he may be immortalized on preview “B-roll” footage for sumo shows for years to come. He has a 6-6 record against Abi, who will be hard pressed to overcome Daieisho’s more powerful, more focused oshi-zumo style.
Shodai vs Kiribayama – (sigh), ah.. Shodai. 2-5, you should go home and prep for Ozeki-wake. Its looking more certain each day. Not your fault sir, but there is still time to recover.
Hoshoryu vs Mitakeumi – Back to the fun side of sumo, it’s time for Mitakeumi to either crank up the power or start his week 2 fade. Frankly, I want him and Takayasu bashing it out in act 3 for sole leader position with just a day or two to go before senshuraku. Hoshoryu has not beaten Mitakeumi in 2 attempts, so this will be a tough match for him.
Onosho vs Takakeisho – Another fine tadpole battle, this time the junior tadpole against the grand tadpole. Onosho has actually won 3 times out of the 12 matches he has had against Takakeisho, so it won’t be completely one sided. However, I think that Takakeisho is done with the unexplainable sumo experiments, and is just going for double arm wave action tsuppari from here on out.